The last time anyone saw Naya Rivera alive was on Wednesday, when security cameras captured her and her son renting a boat at Lake Piru in Ventura County, California. Her son was the last one to see her, and being just 4 years old, the most he could tell authorities was that they went swimming and she never got back on the boat.
While authorities searched for her body, dozens of suggestions poured in: Had she been abducted? Did she get caught up on debris under the water’s surface? Did a whirlpool suck her down? Did she get stuck under the boat?
Part of the reason the search took so long is because of the poor water visibility and the detritus lurking underwater. The lake goes from four to 50 feet deep in some places, and the murky water only adds to the difficulty.
“Under the water, it’s a lot by feel,” volunteer diver Max O’Brien said, according to CBSLA-TV. “There’s a lot of shrubbery and sticks that we have to break through, as we’re going through, so it’s kind of a braille search.”
Dozens of people searched for the actress, representing a multitude of specialties.
“Multiple teams of professional search and rescue personnel are actively searching Lake Piru for any clues to the location of Naya Rivera,” the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office posted on Thursday. “With over 80 people involved in the search right now, we are using helicopters, boats, ATV vehicles, and ground personnel to try and locate her.”
“We have mutual aid for specialized dive teams en route from Los Angeles County, San Luis Obispo County, and Tulare County. We will keep you posted with any updates as we learn them. Our hearts and prayers go out [to] all of the family and friends of the Rivera family.”
“We have to go with where the boat was found initially, and then work our way outward from there,” Sgt. Kevin Donoghue with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department said at a press conference.
“If the body is entangled in something beneath the water, it may never come back up.”
Plenty of locals commented on the sheriff’s post, sharing their own harrowing stories of visiting the lake and nearly drowning, many mentioning that even strong swimmers found the waters treacherous.
As a result, a petition has been started to get warning signs put up around the lake.
“Naya Rivera is not the first, nor the last to go missing at Lake Piru,” the petition page reads. “Lake Piru is a very deep lake with very bad whirlpools, people have been asking for years for the city to put up warning signs for swimmers.”
“Locals of Ventura County don’t go to Lake Piru for this reason! Tourist have no idea what they’re getting into. Lake Piru needs signs. We’re tired of waiting. We need justice for all those who got lost at Lake Piru. Put up the signs.”
Rivera was said to have visited the lake several times and was no stranger to it, but an adult life vest was on the boat, suggesting that she wasn’t wearing it when she took a dip in the lake.
On Monday, Ventura County officials announced that a body had been found at the lake.
According to TMZ, local enforcement sources confirmed to them that it was Rivera.
While the warning signs won’t bring Rivera back, and it’s terrible that it took a celebrity’s death to draw attention to the danger of the lake, hopefully more people will be aware of the inherent risks involved in what seems like a low-key outing.
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